Are you familiar with W.B. Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming? I’ll admit that I wasn’t but, after discovering it recently, it has come to occupy my thoughts. Written in the aftermath of World War I and following the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, it reflects a time with historical parallels to our present situation.
It is the poem’s most well-known line, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”, that has lodged itself in my consciousness so. At first, because it captured so perfectly the sense of personal turmoil that I was experiencing, which was mirrored and magnified by the arrival – or coming – of Covid-19.
However, the meaning that I find in that line has shifted over time. Yes, the poem is dark, even doom-laden in tone but the Armageddon it foretells was not realised. Though it may be irreparably changed, somehow life re-orders and recreates itself.
And such is the message I have found for our times: nothing is constant except change; we cannot maintain a steady state. From the embers of this crisis, a different future will emerge: a “new normal” if you will?
Have you discovered poetry that speaks to you during this time? Or have you revisited and reinterpreted a work in light of the current circumstances?